The Ospreys will have to be at their best in every game between now and the end of the season if they are going to clinch a place in the end of season play-offs according to winger Jeff Hassler.
Cardiff Blues visit the Liberty Stadium this Friday evening to kick-off a six-game run-in that will decide the fate of the team, with Leinster and Connacht still to come to Ospreylia, The region also has to travel to Glasgow, the Millennium Stadium to play the Dragons on Judgement Day, and then an Italian job against Zebre, between now and imid-May.
Hassler helped himself to a brace of tries last time out, in the disappointing loss up in Edinburgh, but as the players focus on the forthcoming Welsh derby, he insists that any personal satisfaction from touching down twice was far outweighed by the disappointment of defeat.
“I scored two up in Edinburgh, but individual achievement doesn’t supersede the team” said the Canadian.
“We needed a win there to put us in a better place as far as the play-offs are concerned. I definitely would’ve traded those tries for a win.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’ve got a real chance of the play-offs but we know that we’ve definitely got a fight on our hands over the remaining weeks of the season to stay in the top four. The next couple of weeks are going to be crucial, we have to get the performance, and get the results, that will allow us to stay ahead of Glasgow, and who knows, maybe even close the gap above us?
“Friday night is a big occasion, and another derby match. We’ve done well against the other Welsh teams this season and I’ve really enjoyed being part of that rivalry. I’m looking forward to this game and hopefully helping the team rise to another challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but we know what we’ve got to do. If we prepare well, know our roles, and play to the best of our ability, then we know that we can get a winning performance.
“It’s absolutely critical that we do that, and set ourselves up for a huge game in Glasgow the following week. We are going to have to be at our best in every game between now and the end of the season if we want to stay in the play-offs.”
It is Hassler’s first season at the Ospreys following his move last summer, and having made the step up to full-time professional rugby, the 22-year old says that he is improving as a player with every game, despite the inevitable peaks and troughs he’s experienced.
“It’s definitely a long season, and that’s something I’ve had to adjust to” admitted Hassler.
“I’ve played more rugby this year than I have pretty much my whole life! It’s been exciting, there’s been a few ups and downs, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far.
“This league is a step up for players coming from tier 2 international rugby, so it’s been huge for my learning curve, playing at this level week-in, week-out, but I think I’m improving as a player with the experience.
“It feels like a bit of a cliche but I feel that I’m growing with every game, I think my performances are getting better and I’m understanding what is required from me and how to achieve that consistency the coaches demand. I’m learning my role better, the positioning, to help my team do the best that they can. I definitely feel that I’m a better player now than when I arrived here last summer. The challenge for me now is to continue improving.”
Tickets for Friday night’s game, and the matches against Leinster and Connacht, are on sale now at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 815 6665.
In addition, you can buy tickets from Tesco stores across Bridgend, Neath and Swansea.
The ‘Double Date’ deal allows supporters to buy tickets for the Cardiff and Leinster games, for just £30 - with one lucky supporter who buys both games being drawn to win a fantastic dinner date with two Ospreys. For more details click here